By Michael Christianson
It’s a rare sight to see a hockey game where both teams are smiling from start to finish but at the Dryden Ice Dogs Alumni game all the players were happy to be back on the ice, sporting the logo they had all grown so familiar with.
Two teams of familiar names competed on Saturday at the Dryden Memorial Arena in a game held to officially kick off Dudley Hewitt Cup week in the city.
Players travelled from near and far to come back to the city, and arena, they called home.
Local boy Brendan Church, who played for the Dogs from 2007-09, said before the game that being in the dressing room brought back a lot of memories, not necessarily the game results but off ice antics and spending time with the guys.
“It’s good to see a lot of kids that you haven’t seen for a while,” said Chruch. “It’s nice to keep track of what everyone is doing but that’s kind of impossible so a weekend like this is going to be fun.”
Church was happy to play alongside his former teammate Tanner Harms who he called a heads up player.
Brendan MacDonald, who played for the Dogs from 2004-07, made the trip from his home in Winnipeg and said just being in the dressing room brought back a lot of memories.
Shawn Newman came all the way from Lloydminster, Alberta where he works on the oil fields and still plays hockey for his hometown Hillmond Hitmen of the SaskAlta Senior Hockey League.
“It’s pretty cool seeing what they have done for us, seeing all the old faces walk through the door,” said Newman. “Makes it a little easier with social media these days to follow along but I think whenever you do something like this it brings us all back in, it makes you pay a little more attention to the team.”
During the game organizer Shawna Sveinson also had a smile across her face as she soaked in the event. She said it was a lot of hard work and thanked Anita Hackman for putting her in touch with all the older players who were around the Ice Dogs before she was.
“It’s just wonderful to see them all on the bench, and out on the ice,” said Svienson. “It’s funny, you don’t realize how much you miss them until you see them sitting there again all of a sudden. I just feel blessed being able to make his happen and have them all here to start off Dudley week; it’s been a really stressful time getting ready for it so to have this super fun and relaxed atmosphere to start it off is wonderful.”
Original Ice Dog Mike English had fun in the game, including a fake fight with Derek McPhail, even though he felt slow being the oldest guy on the ice.
“I feel kind of jealous in a way, all these younger guys just going through it, I’m 36 now I think most of these guys are probably in their 20s and what a big difference it is,” said English. “It was a good time though, getting to see and meet all these guys, we got quite the characters in here.”
His sparring partner, former captain Derek McPhail was happy to be back after last year’s championship season.
“It’s awesome that we could all come here and support the Dudley,” said McPhail. “Just to get together and bring back all the old memories with everybody throughout way back when it first started, it’s a cool thing to be a part of and hopefully they keep doing this annually because that would be unreal.”
Photos by Michael Christianson